You are more than what they see

Dearest Reader,

Without tooting my own horn here, I look slightly younger than my age.

This is mainly due to a combination of my ridiculously tiny body, the fact that I wear braces, and of course my overall juvenile behaviour.

As a result, it is not unusual for people to think I’m less experienced or knowledgeable than I actually am. Sure, it’s nice to be asked for ID when you buy a beer, and we can all pretend I don’t have almost two decades worth of beer guzzling experience. It makes me feel less disgusting.

But because they think that, I think that too. This is especially true professionally speaking. Not too long ago, I walked into a financial consultancy where two men in suits greeted me. They had a visibly puzzled look when “Zozan” from those emails turned out to be a tiny female in a floral dress. They kept checking the empty corridor behind me, perhaps waiting for my dad to show up and do the talking for me.

Those sorts of reactions immediately make me feel out of place and unqualified to be there. Although I was confident walking in, I quickly found myself regretting it. While they explained stock options, I thought to myself: You shouldn’t be here. Getting financial advice. You should be eating caramel popcorn at a fun fair and go ride a unicorn.

Last week I found myself in a training exercise on my first day at a new job, and I was paired up with Grumpy Lady. She was visibly older than me – I’m going to say she was approaching 60. She was clearly disappointed that she had to work with me. As mentioned previously, I tend to adopt juvenile behaviour, so I decided to make matters worse and told her it was my first day.

Instead of focusing on the exercise, she bitchily interrogated me on my work experience. I slowly started to feel inadequate again, imagining unicorns coming to my rescue, until I realised I don’t really have to take it.

Grumpy Lady: Have you worked in PR?
Me: Yes, but I didn’t like it. I guess I’m just not the corporate kind.
Grumpy Lady: Maybe you need to work in a different corporation.
Me: I have worked in different corporations.
Grumpy Lady: Maybe not long enough.


Me: I’ve worked in corporations for 7 years, in 4 different corporations, in 2 different countries, I believe I know. 
Grumpy Lady: Oh. Sorry, you look very young.
Me: I am young, but I’ve been working since I was 19. 

BAM! Then she finally launched into friendly banter.

I felt proud for having stood my ground. It shouldn’t take a stranger to tell me what I know and what I can do.

But then again, it’s nice when it does happen. Later that day, the company newsletter went around, introducing me to the team:


Welcome Zozan

–        Zozan Balci is teaching Public Relations in the Diploma of Communication in Semester 3. She has experience in public relations, corporate communications and media relations and as a freelance journalist (news and consumer). Zozan is also conducting doctoral research for the School of Communications at UTS in the area of socio-linguistics and is also a trained ESL teacher.


Surviving Christmas Parties

Dearest Reader,

‘Tis the season and office Christmas parties have been announced. It is arguably one of the most important events in an employee’s corporate year, and a great opportunity to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level.

Alas, Christmas parties are also the perfect venue for you to make a huge idiot out of yourself in front of everyone you work with, which will taint your reputation for the year to come. But do not worry, dearest reader, as a seasoned Christmas-party-goer, I can share some helpful tips with you.

Rule #1: Despite the obvious temptation, do not get drunk

Sure, here is the perfect opportunity to get absolutely wasted on the company credit card, but we both know that your party-you is not going to be appropriate for this crowd.

Rule #2: If you find yourself drunk despite your best intentions, do not draw attention to yourself

Now is not a good time to make speeches, nor to bust a move to “Gangnam Style”. If you’re tipsy and you’re feeling a little adventurous, just try to stay close to someone who will prevent you from doing something silly.

Rule #3: If you somehow managed to become the centre of attention anyway, do not approach your superior

Fine, you couldn’t help yourself and just got yourself a new nickname that somehow captures your drunken dance moves which you just had to show off at this worst of times. But not all is lost, you can stop here. It is important that you now stick to your own kind, members of your own corporate hierarchy, even though you suddenly feel the courage to walk up to the big boss and tell him what you really think.

Rule #4: If you find yourself tapping your boss on the shoulder anyway, do not tell them what you really think.

Just thank them for this great year, this lovely party, compliment on a wonderful outfit or just smile, say merry Christmas and walk away.

Don’t mention that you feel overworked and underpaid, that you don’t really understand what they have been doing all year because it sure as hell wasn’t working, and do not tell them that you hate their face, voice, kids, spouse or handwriting. Don’t mention things like ‘lousy management’, ‘incompetence’ and ‘greedy bastard’. Don’t get physical.

Rule #5: If you find yourself unemployed by the end of the night, remember that a new year with new beginnings is just around the corner.

What to do. Free beer right?

Totally worth it.